A recent Topspin blog post highlights how ATC and Topspin having been working in partnership with several musicians to create successful and engaging social change campaigns. The post also notes some of the ways in which ATC can help to support artists in their efforts – helping to identify a beneficiary, collecting & delivering funds, managing compliance paperwork, evaluating the donation’s impact and more. Below is the original post showcasing some of the most successful case studies from the past year.

(Original post by Topspin can be found here:

Musicians For Charity

At Topspin, we talk a lot about how artists can use our tools to make money for themselves. While that’s certainly our core mission, we also love to see our artists raise money for others. Whether it’s supporting a local charity, donating to a nationwide non-profit, or advocating for social action, several musicians have used Topspin’s tools to leverage the power of charitable giving. It’s been especially successful when done in concert with Air Traffic Control (ATC), a non-profit organization that supports charity-minded bands by helping them identify a beneficiary, collect & deliver funds, manage compliance paperwork, and evaluate the donation’s impact. Last year, Topspin helped power a number of these campaigns. Here are a few examples:

mount wittenberg orca
Dirty Projectors & Björk for marine life preservation & protection
In April 2009, Björk and the Dirty Projectors separately agreed to play a benefit concert at a bookstore in New York. The benefit’s organizer (Brandon Stosuy of Stereogum) suggested they collaborate on some music together. The artists took his suggestion to heart, and decided to write some new material. Shortly thereafter, Amber from Dirty Projectors was on a hike when she spotted a family of whales swimming off the coast of San Francisco. This inspired a series of songs that became a collaborative album titled “Mount Wittenberg Orca”. The artists were all concerned with the dire condition of the planet’s oceans, so they decided that all the album’s proceeds would be donated to support efforts to create & protect international areas for marine life.

They engaged with Air Traffic Control (ATC) to help manage the donations. In turn, ATC tapped Topspin to power the e-commerce & marketing efforts for the album campaign. Topspin set up a store where fans could purchase the album for a donation of $7, $25, $50, or $100. ATC researched non-profits related to the band’s preferred cause and helped them choose a beneficiary (in this case, the National Geographic Society’s Oceans Project). Then ATC delivered the funds, managed all the compliance forms, and evaluated the impact of the donation.

Over the past six months, the campaign has raised over $60,000. The album is still on sale here. The story was picked up by most major music blogs (Pitchfork, Stereogum, and many others) and garnered both Björk and Dirty Projectors a great amount of goodwill.


Brooke Fraser for CharityWater
Singer/songwriter Brooke Fraser recently launched a pre-order for a new album with the help of Topspin ecosystem partner Sideways Media. Shortly thereafter, she announced a three-month campaign to raise $50,000 for CharityWater, an organization that helps build wells in developing nations and supply small communities there with access to clean water. Sideways helped her develop a new page on her website called “Worthy Exploits” that provided details of her campaign and let Brooke tell a personal story about her decision to undertake it. Brooke devoted a great deal of effort to promoting the campaign, including a constant stream of Tweets to her 70,000 Twitter followers, Facebook status updates to her 130,000 fans, and announcements from the stage at every stop along her tour. In the middle of the campaign, she used Topspin to send an email blast to her entire fan network, featuring a YouTube video with a plea asking them to donate $27 in honor of her 27th birthday. The two days following this email blast were the highest-earning days of the whole campaign, netting almost $10,000 in just 48 hours.

Within three months, Brooke had exceeded her goal of $50,000 in donations to CharityWater. Along the way, the extra exposure helped her capture thousands of new fan email addresses. But Brooke’s charitable campaign doesn’t just end at the donation. She promises to keep contributors informed of the details of the project’s implementation, including photos, videos & GPS coordinates. She even plans to fly to Africa to visit one of the wells and report back to her fans.

Dear New Orleans (various artists) for Gulf Coast relief
A massive benefit album titled “Dear New Orleans” was created by Air Traffic Control to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, who still needed assistance several years after the storm. The compilation featured 31 tracks by artists like OK Go, Tom Morello, Steve Earle, Laura Viers, Flobots, Indigo Girls, My Morning Jacket, and more. Topspin and ATC joined forces to run the campaign. The album was offered for $12 on a Topspin-powered website that also offered downloads with increased donations totaling $25, $50, and $100. A limited-edition poster was also available for $25. Of note, Topspin remitted earnings to ATC within 30 days after a donation was made, which is atypical for record sales. Many charities have to wait months to receive funds raised from donation-based efforts. For critical issues like those facing New Orleans, 30 day net is a godsend.

Aquarium Drunkard for Silver Lake Conservatory
Aquarium Drunkard, the prominent music blog, tapped several up-and-coming Los Angeles bands to cover tracks from Television’s album “Adventure” and created a tribute album. Proceeds from the album benefitted the Silver Lake Conservatory, an LA-area non-profit music school founded by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Aquarium Drunkard offered the album as a free download through a Topspin-powered purchase button, and offered a chance to make additional voluntary donations of either $5, $10, $15, $20, or $25.

Ozomatli for National Council of La Raza
Ozomatli offered an exclusive track to help raise awareness for the 2010 election and promote a get-out-the-vote campaign with National Council de La Raza (NCLR). The organization is a non-partisan advocacy group that is focused on combating poverty & discrimination and improving opportunities for Hispanic people. Ozomatli let users download the track (via a Topspin Email-for-Media widget) once they pledged to vote on Election Day. The campaign received national press (CNNLatino, MTV3), and gave Ozomatli a chance to engage their audience in a meaningful way.

These are just a few examples of artists using Topspin to benefit charities and non-profits. Working in conjunction with Air Traffic Conrol, artists are able to run smooth, successful charity campaigns and leverage their audiences for positive change. We look forward to seeing how other artists can use our platform to help improve the world. If you’re interested in working with Air Traffic Control, email or visit and click Contact to find a phone number and email address where you can reach them.

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